Episode 9. March 27, 2016. I want to welcome everyone to another episode of my znukcast. Today’s topic is the Light of Christ and I want to share with you a portion of my own journey as I have come to understand the important of this wonderful gift from God that is freely available to all of His children. So with that, let’s get started….
I came to a much greater understanding of the Light of Christ by reading a book written by John Pontius titled “Following the Light of Christ into His Presence”. Today I want to talk about my own journey and understanding of this important principle.
In a talk in 2004 to new Mission Presidents, President Boyd K. Packer talked extensively about the light of Christ and its relationship the to the Holy Ghost.
Quoting numerous scriptures, this is what he said: “The Light of Christ is defined in the scriptures as “the Spirit [which] giveth light to every man that cometh into the world” (D&C 84:46); “the light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed” …the Light of Christ is also described in the scriptures as “the Spirit of Jesus Christ” (D&C 84:45), “the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18), “the Spirit of truth” (D&C 93:26), “the light of truth” (D&C 88:6), “the Spirit of God” (D&C 46:17), and “the Holy Spirit” (D&C 45:57).
Elder Packer went on to explain “This Spirit can prompt the farmer in his field and the fisherman on his boat. It can inspire the teacher in the classroom, the missionary in presenting his discussion. It can inspire the student who listens. And of enormous importance, it can inspire husband and wife, and father and mother. This inner Light can warn and guard and guide.”
Joseph Fielding Smith went so far as to say that The Spirit of Christ can be likened unto a “guardian angel” for every person.
In regards to the Holy Ghost, Elder Packer said: “Once a person has received that gift of the Holy Ghost and can cultivate it together with the Light of Christ, which they already have, then the fullness of the gospel is open to their understanding. The Holy Ghost can even work through the Light of Christ. It should not be difficult, therefore, to understand how revelation from God to His children on earth can come to all mankind through both the Spirit of Christ and the Holy Ghost.” And my favorite statement “Then the Light of Christ can be ignited by the Spirit of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.”
I have been thinking that we might more easily recognize that “still small voice” of the spirit if we realize that we are often talking about the familiar voice of our conscience which is this very light of Christ of which President Packer spoke. This is this spirit of Jesus Christ as described in section 84 that communicates the Lord’s will for us, to us. And when ignited by the Holy Ghost it can be an even more powerful influence in our lives.
Is it any wonder that each week when the sacrament prayers are spoken, that the words “that they may have (or always have in the case of the bread) his Spirit to be with them” as a means to remind us of the availability of source of inspiration?
Between the ages of 12 and 17, I was a huge Los Angeles Lakers Fan. I used to go to bed at night and then carefully tune our old vacuum tube AM radio to Station KFI 640 in Los Angeles. It was a faint signal traveling all the way to Fort Hall, Idaho, but if I turned the dial slowly and listened carefully I could lay in bed and hear Chick Hearn and Lynn Shackelford call the play by play of the games.
So how can we tune into the Spirit of the Lord the same way that I used to turn that dial to find 640 KFI?
While worthiness is a prerequisite for the Holy Ghost, the light of Christ is always available, even when we are struggling with sin. And unless we have completely blocked our ability to hear our own conscience, the light of Christ can help us return to God. But either way, we must have ears that want to hear.
The scriptures teach us the consistent language of God is invariably in the form of a command. During his vision on the road to Damascus when Paul asked what he should do, Jesus said “Arise and go into the city” (Acts 8:6). When an Angel appeared to Alma the Younger, he was told: “Arise. If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed, seek no more to destroy the church of God” (Alma 36:8-9). When confronted with what to do with Laban, Nephi was told by the spirit: “Slay him, for the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands.” Later Nephi had his own vision of the tree of life and received a repeated command to “Look”. When Alma and his brethren stopped in the valley of Alma to give thanks after escaping from the Lamanites in the land of Helam: “Haste thee and get thou and this people out of this land” (Mosiah and lastly in the city of Joppa, Peter had a vision extending the gospel to the Gentiles where, after seeing all kinds of beasts and fowl representing the Gentiles, was told: “Arise, Peter; slay and eat.”
My point is that we can be assured we are receiving a prompting when it comes to us in this form. Sometimes we tend to confuse our own self talk with voice of the spirit. When you are considering what you should do and thinking to yourself “maybe I should, or perhaps I could”, I wonder if… This is not how the spirit speaks to us.
My favorite quote from Elder Maxwell is this: “the submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give,” brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!” (Swallowed up in the will of the Father – Ensign Oct 1995)
A while back I began to consider whether I was really laying my will on the altar or just picking and choosing. So I made the commitment to be more obedient to this still small voice and then I plead for help to have the courage to follow through.
Let me tell you about the first three things the spirit prompted me to do after making this commitment: First I was to write a letter to a close family member who had been struggling with forgiveness. Second was to ask my neighbor if the missionaries could come over and weed his flower beds. And third was to first call and when I did not hear back, make a personal visit to a less active member that I had worked with to get to the temple when I was his bishop. These probably sound pretty easy now, but I can tell you none of them were easy for me. In fact all three of them were things I had known for some time the Lord expected me to do, but I put them off, justifying my delay by thinking the Lord would provide an opportunity for me that would make this easy. It never happened.
In each case the command was clear: Write a letter, Go knock on his door, Call him, Stop by his house.
Let me tell you about one of these experiences. It was with my neighbor Steve. Steve is a Military Veteran and is in need of a knee replacement, but because of his hemoglobin count the VA hospital is unable to do the surgery. He is generally very meticulous with his lawn. Whenever he is outside I make it a point to speak with him. We share vegetables from our garden with him and his wife Myrna. They have had some hard times, including a married son committing suicide a number of years ago. You see, I kept waiting for Steve to come outdoors so I could go ask him if the missionaries could come weed his flowerbeds. The longer I waited, the stronger the prompting not to wait. I finally got up my courage, walked over and knocked on his door. I could tell from his demeanor that he was discouraged. When I asked about the missionaries helping him he was thrilled! Shortly after I left his door, he was outside on his mower, mowing his lawn that had not been touched in over a month. What I realized immediately was that Heavenly Father didn’t send me over to Steve because his beds needed weeding, he sent me over to a son whom he loved because he had lost hope. What a valuable lesson for me!
We learn from Nephi’s vision of the tree of Life that the rod of iron, which his father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life. (1 Ne 11:25). We generally think of this iron rod as a two legged stool representing the scriptures combined with the words of the prophets and apostles. Perhaps we all know people who read the scriptures and watch general conference and still along the path lose their way. But if we take this two legged stool and add in a third leg called “personal revelation”, the divine mandate to hold fast to the iron rod becomes a much clearer path to the tree. I have never known anyone who is constantly listening for the promptings of the spirit and then acting upon those promptings to get lost in the midst of darkness.
Just on more thing and that is the importance of courage. Acting on promptings takes faith and courage. Faith that the Lord has prepared the way before he sends us on an errand and courage to follow through. The words of the primary song titled Nephi’s Courage says it best: Nephi was courageous, this was his reply, I will go, I will do, the thing the Lord commands, I know the Lord provides a way, he wants me to obey.
As I finish this znukcast today, I hope we can all to reflect on three questions:
- When we are all listening to and acting upon the promptings of the spirit, what will be the impact on those who are discouraged or lost?
- When we are all listening to and acting upon the promptings of the spirit, what will be the frequency of our temple attendance?
- When we are all listening to and acting upon the promptings of the spirit, what will be the impact on the relationships with our spouse and children?
I have come to know for myself that Heavenly Father, his Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are actively involved in our lives through spiritual promptings. I know that as we all become more sensitive to and led by the Spirit of the Lord, that every step we take will lead us closer to the tree of life and becoming more like God.
That wraps up episode #9. I hope there may have been something in this znukcast today that was helpful to you. Again I want to thank dear Brother John Pontius for what he has taught me about the Light of Christ. I would encourage you to pick up his book and start your own journey if you have not already done so. Until next time….keep the faith.